Every inbound marketing program’s goal is to generate leads, but often little thought is put into what you will do with the prospects. This is where lead scoring comes in.
Lead scoring is a critical collaboration point between sales and marketing teams. If executed correctly, your lead scoring methodology will determine which prospects are qualified and which are still in the early stages of their consumer decision journey. 59% of marketers say they currently provide salespeople with very high-quality leads, but only 25% of salespeople agree. This makes lead scoring an essential part of a lead nurturing campaign.
There are a variety of ways to score leads and close the gap between marketing and sales. Most Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation tools (i.e. Hubspot, Salesforce, Marketo, Sharpspring, etc.) leverage a point-based system. Points align with prospect behavior and relate to campaigns, content, and clicks. However, the most effective lead scoring also considers your audience personas, such as demographic data and company information.
Implicit and Explicit Scoring
When beginning a lead scoring program, there are two information categories to consider:
This category focuses on information that is shared with you directly through lead forms, location information, IP addresses, and company data. Sometimes within your CRM or marketing automation tool you'll see this type of company data referred to with the acronym, BANT, which stands for: budget, authority, need, and timeline.
How to Determine Lead Scores
Leads are assigned positive or negative points based on implicit and explicit data received. For example, if someone visits your pricing page, you may allot +30 points since that shows interest. However, if they move on to your careers page, you would assign them -50 points since the information infers they are researching employment opportunities.
When the data is compiled for this prospect, their aggregate score is -20, which would not classify them as a qualified lead.
Unfortunately, there is no immediate right answer for what number equals a qualified lead since it depends on your industry, customer, brand, and content. To determine what a qualified lead means to you, analyze the buying journey of current customers to determine which engagement appears to lead to a sale and score/tweak accordingly until you have confidence in your lead scoring.
Lead Scoring Best Practices
Go beyond page visits. Adding or removing points for visiting a page is fine, but you'll get more out of your lead scoring if you go a bit deeper. Look at on-page modules or CTAs to help you define your prospect and accurately score them. Let’s revisit the earlier example of a visitor on your pricing page. More positive points are assigned if they not only visit (+30), but they click to expand details on the "enterprise" version of your product (+15) vs. the small business version (+5). Review your website thoroughly to understand the path your prospects may take and determine what information would be valuable to you.
Know your target audience. If you have taken the time and effort to develop customer personas, this is an ideal place to use them. Create your lead scoring based on your personas in order to gain a firm understanding of who is visiting your site, and where they are engaging. This will allow you to build on your success and adjust what isn't working.
Test and adjust. It is important to continuously monitor and adjust lead scoring to ensure that results improve along with your understanding of your prospects, personas, and content effectiveness. It's useful to review lead scoring data along with your campaign and site analytics to identify gaps, opportunities, and confirm that the user path maps to your expectations.
Integrating personas, analytics, and consumer decision journey mapping are important steps in creating a strategic lead scoring methodology. The end result will be higher conversions, greater revenue, and a thankful sales (and c-level) team.